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  • Definition: Handshapes are one of the five fundamental building blocks of a sign: Handshape, movement, location, orientation, and nonmanual markers. Nonmanual markers include those aspects of body language that do not involve the hands such as shoulder movements, head tilts, and facial expressions. The handshape is literally the shape in which we form our hand during the production of a sign. The movement or shape of certain signs can be modified in such a way as to include information about a referent's type, size, shape, movement, or extent. Those signs which have this ability are "classifiers." It might be more accurate to call them "potential classifiers" since whether or not these "potential classifiers" become actual classifiers depends on how they are used in context.